Veritas Prep Blog » Law School Admissions GMAT Prep | SAT Prep | Admissions Consulting Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:21:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2011 Law School Applicant Survey Results Revealed! Wed, 26 Oct 2011 14:11:45 +0000 Veritas Prep has just released the results of its 2011 Law School Applicant Survey! Part of the work we do in monitoring admissions trends is staying current on what applicants are thinking. This survey, now in its second year, is part of that ongoing effort.

Our new white paper — titled “Inside the Minds of Law School Applicants” (PDF link) — contains some very interesting insights! Nearly 150 current and prospective law school applicants participated in this year’s survey, representing a combination of both college graduates and current undergraduates. A breakout of select findings is below:

  • There was a 13 percentage point decrease in the proportion of law school applicants who would still apply even if a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields. Only 68 percent of respondents indicated they would still apply in such circumstances, compared to 81 percent in 2010. Also of interest, only 26 percent of respondents believe they will always be able to find a job if they have a JD, a nine percent decrease from last year’s results.
  • Finding a job that allowed them to pay off their student loan debt (73%) supplanted last year’s top issue, which was finding an appealing long-term career path (68% of respondents as opposed to 79% of respondents in 2010).
  • Although the number of respondents (21%) relying on grants and scholarships remained unchanged, the number expecting to finance their education through student loans grew substantially, from 38 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2011. Perhaps somewhat related to this increase was the fact that in 2011 only nine percent of respondents indicated parental support would help them finance the degree, as opposed to the 14 percent expecting parental support last year.
  • Location continues to be the most important factor in selecting a law school (71% this year). Although prestige and ranking continue to be important considerations (64% in 2011), this year career placement rate displaced prestige and ranking as the number two consideration, with 67 percent of respondents considering it a high priority (versus last year’s 62%). Additionally, the affordability of a legal education has assumed a higher priority for respondents: 60 percent (versus last year’s 54%) cited it as a consideration in the law school selection process.

To stay on top of the latest news and trends in law school admissions, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Complete Our Law School Applicant Survey for a Chance to Win an iPad 2! Thu, 11 Aug 2011 14:11:59 +0000 Attention all law school applicants! Veritas Prep is conducting its second annual survey of applicants to the world’s most competitive law schools, in partnership with Law School Podcaster and the National Jurist’s PreLaw Magazine. We want to hear from YOU why you’re applying to law school, where you are in the process, and what matters most to you as an applicant.

And, best of all, by filling out either survey by August 26 you will enter for a chance to win an iPad 2! You can access the survey here. It will take you no more than two minutes to complete!

Take the survey here.

After we collect and analyze the data, we will share our findings with the entire applicant community. This survey is now in its second year, and we look forward to sharing what we learn, particularly the trends that have emerged since last year. Want to know more? Here’s a look at last year’s results.

Remember, you must complete the survey by August 26! One randomly selected survey participant will win a new iPad 2!

Getting ready to apply to a top-ranked law school this year? Call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a law school admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Admissions 101: It's Not You, It's Me Thu, 27 Jan 2011 16:11:13 +0000 MBA AdmissionsGetting rejected is hard stuff. What makes it even more painful is that few MBA programs (or law schools or medical schools) give rejected applicants specific feedback on why they didn’t get in. Applicants just want to know what they “did wrong” to not get in, but, even when schools do provide feedback, the applicants normally end up confused and still guessing about what to do next.

What’s the deal? Are admissions officers trying to obfuscate the process, keeping you in the dark so that you can’t “game” the system? Are they just cold hearted, not caring about you, especially once they’ve decided they don’t want you? No and no. The truth is that, when someone gets rejected, it’s often because the school just couldn’t find any great reason to admit them over thousands of other applicants.

Rejection letters often contain lots of references to “an unusually strong year” and the fact that “the admissions office reviewed more great applications than it has spots to offer.” While this may sound like a lot of hot air that they blow to make you feel better, therein lies the real reason why many applicants get rejected.

Think about it: Next year’s incoming class at Stanford GSB will be a bit smaller than 400 students. Out of the 7,000+ applications the school receives, do you really think that only a few hundred are strong enough to be admitted? Of course not. The number is probably closer to 2,000 than it is to 500. (We’re speaking in pretty broad terms here, but the exact numbers aren’t what’s most important here.) Separating out the 2,000 great applicants from the rest is the easy part; it’s deciding which of those 2,000 to admit is where things get hard for the admissions office.

Invariably, they’ll see hundreds of applicants whom they really love, but who just aren’t presenting that one knockout thing that makes admissions officers choose them over the next (very similar) applicant. Two applicants with amazing international banking experience, identical GMAT scores, perfect letters of recommendation, and essays that could make the reader cry… There’s no law that says the school can only take one, but they have to start making hard choices at some point, and soon enough the admissions director will start leaning on his or her team to start reducing the number of bankers in the class, or to only take another consultant if he walks on water, etc.

So, admissions officers start to make tough choices, and really are forced to not choose some applicants simply because they only have so many spots left, and they can’t justify devoting a spot to those applicants because they just not quite great enough to justify it. (The old Seinfeld “sponge-worthy?” reference comes to mind here.) Thousands of applicants get the “It’s not you, it’s us” letter, and for at least a few hundred of them for a given school, the admissions committee really, really means it.

The way to avoid falling into this bucket (or, more accurately, to minimize your risk of falling into it) is to present something truly outstanding about yourself, something that really stands out and will stick in admissions officers’ minds when they start negotiating and whittling down the class. Make sure your essays help them feel like they know you personally. Submit recommendations in which the writers scream from the rooftops, “This kid is a rock star!!” Nail your interviews so that they have no questions about your maturity and your ability to worth with others. Display a knowledge of (and a passion for) the program that leaves no question in the admissions committee’s mind that you will matriculate if accepted. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t force them to overlook any weaknesses in your profile. Make their decision an easy one.

The above steps are obviously more easily said than done, but they really are the best way to avoid falling into the “We really like you, but just can’t quite find room for you” bucket. Do it right, and when the admissions office talks about the “unprecedented number of highly qualified applicants,” they’ll be talking about you.

Thinking about applying to the world’s top business schools, law schools, or medical schools this year? Be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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American Bar Association May Drop LSAT Requirement Wed, 19 Jan 2011 16:11:27 +0000
Law School Admissions

"All in favor of killing the LSAT requirement say 'aye.'"

Last week Inside Higher Ed reported that the American Bar Association is considering ending a rule that law schools require the LSAT in order to receive ABA accreditation. Right now this is just an idea being kicked around by an ABA panel charged with reviewing the associations accreditation rules, but if the panel recommends the change (which many believe it will), ABA approval may not be far behind.

Why the proposed change? Many schools claim that the LSAT requirement takes away flexibility in the admissions process, because they have no choice but to report those scores to the magazines that that publish annual rankings (ahh, the rankings again). Since each school needs to keep up with the Joneses and keep their mean LSAT scores high (lest they risk dropping in those hated rankings), they end up turning away some students they really do want.

According to Inside Higher Ed:

Donald J. Polden, dean of the law school at Santa Clara University and chair of the ABA committee studying the standards, said that in two preliminary discussions of the issue, a “substantial majority” of committee members indicated that they would like to drop the LSAT requirement. (He confirmed a report on the likely shift in requirements, first published by The National Law Journal.)

Polden said via e-mail that there are “good arguments” for dropping the LSAT as an accreditation requirement. He said such a move would provide “greater flexibility for schools to achieve diversity goals in their admitted classes, permitting schools to experiment with admission programs that benefit the school without being penalized by U.S. News ranking changes attributable to those programs, following some of the thinking of undergraduate institutions on optional standardized entrance exams.” An ABA report last year was highly critical of the way many law schools are obsessed with high LSAT averages, which lead to higher rankings from U.S. News & World Report, and said that the link between test scores and rankings was discouraging efforts to promote diversity among law students.

We’re not sure how many law schools will drop the LSAT requirement if the requirement goes away, although one school, the Massachusetts School of Law, has famously fought the ABA’s LSAT requirement for years. It’s hard to imagine numerous top law schools following suit, but it’s not out of the question that they could end up looking at a combination of other quantified factors to get at the same thing.

If the changes does happen, though, one can’t help but feel like it’s a case of the tail wagging the dog: “The rankings are driving some less-than-ideal behavior because they report on LSAT scores. I know… Let’s not require the LSAT anymore! That will fix it.” If that were to happen, then surely U.S. News and other publications will simply put more emphasis on other quantifiable measures, such as undergraduate GPA. We can see it now: In five years there will be an article about the ABA dropping the rule that law schools require applicants to provide undergraduate transcripts. Then they won’t want schools to report how many of their grads pass the bar. That will teach those rankings publishers.

While we agree that too much emphasis is put on rankings, and the rankings themselves may put too much emphasis on standardized test scores, it really seems like the ABA is missing the point. If the LSAT works for admissions officers (and most still say that they do), then figure out another way to solve the rankings problem, rather than stopping what works simply because it creates an indirect downstream problem somewhere else. Dropping the LSAT requirement is an easy change to make, and it may seem like it mitigates the problem, but we guarantee that problem will simply reappear in another form.

Thinking about applying to law school? Give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a law school admissions expert today. And, don’t forget to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Admissions 101: What Admissions Essays and Wedding Speeches Have in Common Thu, 13 Jan 2011 16:11:20 +0000
Business School Admissions

Who's the lucky guy?

Next week yours truly will deliver a speech at a wedding. I have known the groom for nearly two decades, and I consider him to be one of my closest friends, even though distance unfortunately keeps us apart most of the time (I live in California and he lives in Beijing). While I don’t consider myself to be an expert toastmaster, I’m not too worried, since I know that what makes for a great admissions essay or personal statement also makes for a terrific wedding speech.

Think back for a minute and consider the last few weddings you’ve been to. If you’re lucky, you only have witnessed great wedding speeches and toasts, but odds are that you’ve sat through at least one or two bombs. What accounts for the difference?

While your first answer might understandably be, “It’s how comfortable the person is about delivering speeches in front of large groups,” I don’t really think that’s the case. Yes, no one wants to watch the poor guy stand up there and sweat bullets as he fumbles with a piece of paper covered in smeared ink, fumfering into the microphone for what seems like 20 minutes. Delivery absolutely matters.

But content outshines delivery almost every time. Here’s one common culprit that’s made more than a few wedding toasts bad: The speaker just focused on cracking jokes, and left you scratching your head as to who he is, what he has to do with all of this, and why he chose to tell that story of what he saw the groom do in New Orleans back in 2004. Although he probably thought it was funny, you were eyeballing the buffet the whole time, wondering when was going to finish. He didn’t connect with you, and you ended up caring about him or his relationship with the lucky couple no more than when he started.

Now think about the ones that you have enjoyed. Even the Nervous Nellies deliver good toasts when they’re willing to get a little personal. The good speakers reveal a little bit about themselves, and in doing so they help you get to know them a bit better. They share a vulnerability or concern that we’ve all felt at some point, and everyone shares a small appreciative chuckle. They present a side of the bride and groom that you’ve never seen before (and actually want to see). They make you care a little more. They connect with you.

A great speaker — just like a great admissions essay writer — doesn’t need to leave them rolling in the aisles. Humor helps, but only to the extent that it helps to present and accentuate personal stories that make you feel like you now know the person on more than a superficial level. I already have some idea of the speech I’ll deliver next week (I prefer to wing it a bit), and there will be a few dashes of humor. But, more than anything, it will be a tribute to the bride and groom that comes from the heart.

A great admissions essay works in the same way. It doesn’t focus on devices and gimmicks; it just delivers a message that the reader will leave the reader saying, “I really enjoyed that. He seems like someone I’d like to get to know more.” Whether you’re talking about what matters most to you (… and why), or discussing a time when you failed as part of a team, or discussing where you see yourself in your career ten years from now, this same yardstick applies. Putting a little bit of your self out there — even though it seems risky… no, especially when it seems risky! — is the difference between a bore of an essay and a terrific one.

For more GMAT tips and admissions advice form Veritas Prep, remember to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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The Worrisome World of Essay-Writing Services Mon, 20 Dec 2010 16:11:14 +0000
MBA Admissions Consulting

We think we once saw a guy selling essays in this alley.

Recently the Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece written by an anonymous “hired gun” who writes admissions essays, term papers, and even doctoral theses for paying students, who in turn pass these off as their own. Not long after that, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a similar article that profiled a couple of similar services that write essays for business school applicants. (Veritas Prep was actually mentioned as an ethical alternative to these services in the latter article.)

Two things really bother us about the existence of these services. Is one of them the fact that they’re unethical and shady? Well, yes, we do think that, but that’s so obvious that we won’t devote any more words to it here. (If you’re the type to consider buying your essays from someone, then maybe becoming a business leader or a lawyer or a doctor isn’t the best path for you.)

No, the first thing that bothers us is that schools and admissions offices seemingly don’t question how someone with a horrible command or English could create a perfectly constructed essay or research paper. If you are to believe the sources quoted in both article, these services work well enough (i.e., students get caught rarely enough) that they have thriving businesses with repeat customers. Again, the students who submit these and the hired guns who write them are flaunting the rules of the system, but where the hell the admissions officers, professors, and university department heads who should easily catch this sort of behavior? You mean to tell me that, as a student with broken English clumsily defends a doctoral thesis that he’s barely read all the way through, the thought of, “I wonder if this is his work,” never crosses their minds?

Again, that doesn’t excuse such behavior, but we really wonder about who’s minding the shop at these supposedly academically challenging institutions. Just like the TSA may never catch every pen knife that goes through airport security, it’s understandable if a handful of forged academic papers slip through the system now and then. But, if the practice is as commonplace as the Chronicle piece makes it out to be (just look at the business this guy’s company supposedly does), then someone is not doing their job. This isn’t even a question of what the penalties should be for students who are caught cheating — those penalties should of course be steep — but a question of why more of these students don’t get caught in the first place.

The second thing is admittedly a bit more selfish… It bothers us is that such services cause the whole industry of admissions consultants and coaches to get painted with the same broad brush. As mentioned in the Bloomberg Businessweek article, Veritas Prep is a member of AIGAC, an international organization devoted to upholding ethical standards among admissions consultants. Bring admitted to AIGAC is no small task — a company and its individual members have to jump through many hoops to be admitted — and maintaining one’s membership is just as involved.

Although AIGAC now has dozens of members around the world, it takes just one or two bad actors (like the ones profiled in these articles) to cause some university official to go off half-cocked and ban any type of application assistance, no matter what the circumstances. As a company that provides ethical admissions consulting and essay editing services to hundreds of applicants every year, we’d hate to see that happen.

For more business school news and analysis, remember to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Law School Applicants Willing to Brave Gloomy Job Market Thu, 21 Oct 2010 23:49:08 +0000 This morning we released the results of a comprehensive survey of law school applicants that we recently conducted. Our first annual law school applicant survey — conducted in partnership with Law School Podcaster and PreLaw Magazine — uncovered some interesting insights behind what drives today’s law school applicants.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how some law schools mislead potential applicants by overstating their post-graduation career prospects. Are law school hopefuls aware of the bleak job market, disappearing six-figure jobs, and the heavy student loan debt associated with leading law schools? More importantly, do they care? The answers may surprise you.

The short answer to the question of, “Would today’s law school applicants still apply even if they knew their job prospects would be bleak upon graduation?” is YES, most of them would in fact still apply. And, many of these seem just as concerned about their long-term career prospects as they are with the question of what job they’ll land right out of law school.

Here’s what we found in our survey of more than 100 law school applicants:

  • 81% of respondents said they would still apply to law school now even if a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields, while 12% said they would postpone applying until placement rates improved. Only 4% said they would not apply to law school.
  • Respondents are equally concerned with finding an appealing long-term career path and maintaining a healthy work/life balance once they start working (79%). Other key concerns include finding a job that allows them to pay off their student loan debt (72%) and using their law degree to make a positive impact on their community (69%).
  • 44% of respondents indicated a reasonable desired base salary upon law school graduation to be $75,000-$100,000, while 29% expect $100,000-$145,000. 11% of respondents anticipate base salaries over $145,000.

So why are they applying to law school in the first place? The majority of respondents said they want to go to law school because they are interested in the law and the way it shapes society and business (75%). Some admitted to having more practical reasons: 35% of respondents believe they will always be able to find some kind of job if they have a JD.

We’ve written a lot about”helicopter parents,” and we know that a lot of these parents are behind their children’s push to get into law school. However, only 13% of respondents are going to law school because their parents want them to attend. (Some of us wonder if the real number is in fact higher, but no 21-year-old wants to admit it.)

Finally, we wondered how much affordability factored into these applicants’ decision-making. According to our survey results, it’s only important to 54% of respondents in the law school selection process. Student loans (38%) and grants/scholarships (21%) were the two most common financing strategies for law school, while 14% of respondents indicated parental support will help them finance the degree. So, despite all of the chatter these days about runaway student loan burdens, it seems that the majority of those who do apply just accept the high costs as a fact of life.

Getting ready to apply to a top-ranked law school this year? Call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a law school admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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How to Put the "I" in Application Thu, 15 Jul 2010 15:11:00 +0000 Law School AdmissionsAn application tip for the graduate school candidate.

Most of our time writing on this blog is spent diving into the nuance and nitty gritty of GMAT prep and the MBA admissions process. Every once in a while, it helps to take a step back and look at things from a very fundamental, building-block level.

Today we are going to take a crack at some armchair psychology — thinking about why people have such a hard time writing about themselves in graduate school essays and personal statements. Not just the “what to say” part, but also how to say it. Put bluntly, most people produce fairly mediocre prose when it comes to writing about their own lives and goals.

Think back to the process of applying to college and try to recall the most difficult thing about the applications. No doubt it was writing the myriad essays required by each school. What made those so difficult? After all, surely your high school English classes demanded more of you as a writer. The answer is actually pretty simple: you had to write from the “I” perspective for the first time in many years.

From the time we enter elementary school, we are taught to avoid using the word “I” in our writing. Whether in fiction, research, opinion, or reporting, the use of the word “I” is frowned upon by English teachers and grammar purists everywhere. So it comes as no surprise that the task proves difficult when we are asked to do it after years of neglect.

A graduate school applicant has at least been through this once before, but the transition is still uncomfortable. The best thing an applicant can do is become fully aware of this internal struggle. Once you realize that the nagging doubt in your brain is actually the voice of your eighth grade journalism teacher, it becomes much easier to ignore –- nay, destroy – that voice and tackle the assignment at hand. So embrace your inner “I” and enjoy the rare chance to bombard your reader with the most glorious of all pronouns.

For personalized, effective MBA admissions, law school admissions, or medical school admissions help, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our admissions experts today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

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Defending Admissions Officers Everywhere Tue, 22 Jun 2010 16:17:00 +0000 Law School AdmissionsLast week, Michael Kinsley, the editor-at-large for the Atlantic Wire, wrote an op-ed piece on the admissions process that highlighted some of the reasons why things have become so competitive and cutthroat over the years. The piece focused primarily on college admissions, but there are multiple mentions of graduate school and examples of HBS, so it seems fair to consider Kinsley’s words from the perspective of graduate school admissions.

And what were his words?

As they pertain to admissions officers, nothing much more than the usual screed about the arbitrary nature of selective college admissions. Make no mistake, there are some good thoughts in here: some interesting and basic (and probably more interesting because of how basic it is) math showcases the rise in competition over the years, and I certainly agree with the idea that in planning out our lives we “obsess about this college versus that only because that’s the only factor we can obsess about.” Well said and certainly true, as far as I’m concerned. Where Kinsley loses me is in his critique of the admissions process itself, and the accusation that “the decision is essentially random, the process was wildly inconsistent, and I might well have been turned down because the assistant dean didn’t care for his lunch that day.”

Here, Kinsley simply resorts to the party line of outsiders, media members, and higher ed critics, groaning on about how arbitrary it all is. I half expected to read the phrase “throwing darts at a dart board.” And make no mistake, there is an element of chance in the admissions process at an elite institution. There is luck. There is a human element that plays a large role. There are more than enough qualified candidates and it can seem harsh, unfair, and capricious when some get in and some do not. But to dismiss the entire process because of these factors is to fail to understand that process. Yes, there is luck — but the role that luck plays can be reduced through careful planning and presentation. Yes, there is a human element — but that human element can be a benefit when you take the time to consider the person on the other side of the desk. Yes, there are more than enough qualified applicants — does that mean you should just give up?

I can tell you two things, as someone who was an admissions officer at a highly selective college (acceptance rate under 30%) and as someone who now works with applicants to highly selective graduate programs. The first is that admissions officers DO work hard, as they claim in their rejection letters (much to Kinsley’s chagrin). An admissions office typically has one “file reading” professional for every 1,000 applications and that personnel is responsible for both recruiting those applicants and then making decisions on their credentials. The process features multiple layers and gets several eyes on the same profile — decisions aren’t made based on what someone has for lunch. That’s reductive, throw-away language that people use when they don’t want to wrestle with reality.

The reality is that admissions officers work hard, they care about what they are doing, and they want to see applicants who work just as hard and care just as much. This is bad news for many who view the process as more of a sweepstakes and less of a rigorous match-making and interviewing experience, but it’s good news for people who want to roll up their sleeves and treat their applications with care.

The second thing I can tell you, given everything I just wrote above, is that I wouldn’t want someone who views the admissions process the way Michael Kinsley does to advise me on my own applications.

At Veritas Prep, we both support the work of admissions professionals and believe in our ability to help candidates confront this difficult process. We don’t throw up our hands and blame it all on the fates. And neither should you.

For personalized, effective MBA admissions, law school admissions, or medical school admissions help, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our admissions experts today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

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Fill Out a Short Survey for a Chance to Win an iPad! Mon, 14 Jun 2010 23:52:00 +0000 MBA Applicant SurveyAttention all business school and law school applicants! Veritas Prep is conducting its first annual survey of applicants to the world’s most competitive MBA programs and law schools. We want to hear from YOU why you’re applying to grad school, where you are in the process, and what matters most to you as an applicant.

And, best of all, by filling out either survey by June 22 you will enter for a chance to win an iPad pre-loaded with Veritas Prep’s GMAT prep books and Annual Reports!

You can find the surveys here:

After we collect and analyze the data, we will share our findings with the entire applicant community. As we said above, these are our first annual applicant surveys, and we will conduct these every year to track trends in the graduate school admissions space.

Remember, you must complete either survey by June 22! One randomly selected participant will win a new iPad!

If you’re ready to start building your candidacy for a top MBA program or law school, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an admissions expert today! And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

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